BROWNE ON THE BALL: It could be how you finish, not how you start, which counts

Zak Mills.
Zak Mills.
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Well that was a terrible start, wasn’t it?

No, I don’t mean Boston United’s opening-day defeat at Stockport County, nor do I mean the midweek loss to Solihull Moors.

I’m talking about what happened before the season even kicked off.

Just minutes before 3pm on Saturday, the Pilgrims’ pre-game preparation was thrown into disarray as Zak Mills pulled up with a hamstring twinge and was forced to begin his season from the stands.

Having to change your game plan so close to the action unfolding is about as ideal as packing your bags for Benidorm and discovering you’ve actually booked a fortnight in Benington.

And just like arriving in the Fens with a suitcase full of swimwear, United were forced to make do with what they had at their disposal.

No disrespect to Grant Roberts - who filled in at right back - and Jack Friend, asked to play on the left wing, but the team which kicked off was not United at its strongest.

I’m sure both would be quick to admit that they can’t play to their potential when out of position and filling another’s shoes.

And they had some big shoes to fill.

Last season Mills was one of the club’s stand-out performers, a versatile defender who can stop opponents in their tracks, launch a throw long enough to make the boffins at NASA double-check their radars and also find the back of the net.

Not only did United lose a goal stopper so close to kick off, they also had to make do without a serious goal threat.

But despite their setback, those in amber and black performed admirably.

Yes, they lost the game.

Yes, they didn’t play to the high standards they set last season.

And yes, they could do with some additional defensive cover on the bench.

But despite all this, Boston still came within a whisker of getting something from the game.

Mark Jones somehow missed a chance he will put away every time it comes his way in the future, Jack Friend was millimetres from his first club goal with a strike which hit the inside of the post and Danny Hurst had to be at his best to frustrate Jay Rollins.

The gloomy faces on the United staff and players at full time didn’t tell the full story.

It didn’t point out there were still plenty of positives.

You could say the same for the first home game against Moors.

Forced into changing goalkeeper and questioning why Theo Streete didn’t pick up at least his second booking when conceding a penalty as the last man, there were moments which again worked against United.

Of course, good teams overcome big obstacles, and it is now up to Boston to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke.

It’s too early to read anything into the outcomes of the first two games.

Fylde, FC United and Chorley also lost on Saturday, with the latter two also without a point to their names yet.

And I’m sure those two, plus Boston, will still finish in the top half of the table, at least.

I mean, didn’t last season teach us that it’s how you finish which really matters most?